UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 7 | Jul.
Shirley Sullivan, a 2003 Killam Teaching Prize Winner (UBC
Reports, May 2003), advises her students that before venturing
criticism they must first appreciate
what the philosopher
is saying. (I have suppressed fully from
the quoted line. To ask full understanding as
a condition of their critically addressing the thought of
another is to consign students to perpetual silence. Indeed,
the mouths of the teachers would be stopped were the demands
enforced.) Isnt pedagogical gain more effectively made
by encouraging inchoate critical activity and gently correcting
it ambulando? Still, Professor Sullivans is reasonable-sounding
advice. She goes on however to attribute to Plato the conviction
that people can be happy only if they are being creative.
Unless creative is being used here in some esoteric
sense, the claim in patently false. Professor Sullivan seems
to have breached her own counsel. As to the claim about creativity
itself; the image of the tortured artist has wide currency
in our culture. True, Professor Sullivan doesnt say
that creativity assures happiness. She asserts the converse.
But the latter, as patently false as the attribution to Plato,
is even apart from its untruth an unusual view for the experienced
pedagogue to endorse. Perhaps Professor Sullivan was careless
with her words during the interview. I must however sadly
report that my view of the Killam awards as gifts made by
colleagues to colleagues is further confirmed.
Arts One Programme